At the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers chose two forwards (Jesse Puljujarvi and Tyler Benson) before settling in and grabbing three names from their list of available defensemen. Since Peter Chiarelli arrived in time for the 2015 draft, Edmonton has chosen a defender eight times out of 15 selections (53 percent). The new general manager clearly wanted to add quality and depth to the position, both for Edmonton’s future and possible trade options down the line. Defensemen always have value. Always.
One of the more intriguing selections last summer was Filip Berglund, a two-way defender who had played well enough to be gifted five games with Skelleftea of the SHL. The SHL is Sweden’s top league, it used to be called the SEL and has been around since 1975 and employed most of the great Swedish players in the game’s history. Nicklas Lidstrom played there before authoring a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Red Wings, as an example.
FILIP BERGLUND DRAFT-DAY SCOUTING REPORT
- NHL Black Book: “He’s one of the better second-time eligibles coming from Europe, had great progression from last year. Has the makings of a big two-way defenseman, I like that he has some skill and vision with the puck on top of that big frame, there’s some offensive upside in him.”
- Swedish Poster: He’s a big kid at 6’3 and already past 200 pounds. He’s an overager, (now) 19. This year he was up to speed and delivered one hell of a season offensively nearly hitting PPG. As is usually the case with productive D the majority of the points came on the PP where his big shot from the blue line was full value. He scored at nearly a goal per game and a lot was due to his great shot. He got better and better as the season rolled along. Source
I don’t know if you subscribe to scouting services, but if you do I highly recommend The Black Book. This thumbnail sketch gives us an idea about the player and his progress up to draft day 2016. Let’s look at the months that followed.
FILIP BERGLUND 2016-17
We’re at a point in spring when the regular season is over in most leagues, and that’s the time when I begin to review these young prospects and their performances (here and at Lowetide). SHL prospects offer a special challenge, because information flow isn’t quite the same as is is for Ethan Bear (as an example) so we have to rely more on numbers and what they tell us about these young prospects.
In wandering through the SHL website, I found some interesting numbers and thought it might be worthwhile to compare them to defensemen who have performed in the same league at the same time. Among the things that have great importance (in my opinion) when viewing a player’s season: Age, time on ice, offensive performance.
- Age: 19
- Boxcars: 47, 0-9-9
- Time on Ice: 9:30 per game (source)
- Points-per-60: 1.21
Now this is including all disciplines, so even strength, power play and shorthanded icetime and points are included here. Based on these numbers, I’d suggest Berglund survived the full season’s schedule (league plays 52 games) and was probably a depth (6-7) blueliner. For his age, that’s a very good arrow. He showed some offensive promise too, but how does that compare to other 19-year old defensemen we know?
Oscar Klefbom 2012-13
- Age: 19
- Boxcars: 11, 0-3-3
- Time on Ice: 17:28 per game (source)
- Points-per-60: 0.94
Now, before we get too excited about Filip Berglund all of a sudden, let’s review. Oscar Klefbom had injury issues at 19, losing most of his season. He was clearly a more substantial prospect, we know this because his coach was playing him over 17 minutes a night. The difference in offensive performance can be chalked up to luck (there’s no real difference), but it does tell us that Berglund has some offense in his game. Let’s try another.
Timothy Liljegren 2016-17
- Age: 17
- Boxcars: 19, 1-4-5
- Time on Ice: 10:02 per game (source)
- Points-per-60: 1.57
Liljegren is the top ranked Swedish defender available in this year’s draft and he could go in the top three overall. Like Klefbom in 2012-13, Liljegren is having some injury issues (the top of this year’s draft is having a helluva time staying healthy) but it’s pretty clear, even in a small sample size, he’s a very nice prospect. Both Klefbom and Liljegren give us some idea about Berglund, but is there a reasonable comparable out there? Offensively, I think so, but it’s a bit of a stretch in terms of overall ability.
Jacob Larsson 2015-16
- Age: 18
- Boxcars: 47, 5-9-14
- Time on Ice: 11:19 per game (source)
- Points-per-60: 1.08
Jacob Larsson is a first-round pick with a wide range of skills, and I’m not for a moment suggesting Berglund is his equal in terms of overall play. However, offensively Berglund is in this range, not because he has handsome boxcars but because Berglund produced nine points in part-time play.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think the Oilers have a nice player here, his offensive ability somewhat hidden by his lack of playing time in games. As he played in most of the schedule, we can assume he’s at least useful enough defensively to be somewhat trustworthy. That offensive potential that we saw a year ago in the scouting reports has found its way into his SHL performances. Good arrows and we wait for another SHL season to find out what happens in the next chapter.
#RIPDOD PARTY IN A LIMO?